Xhaka clinging to Arsenal captaincy with Emery set to consult players

Granit Xhaka was clinging onto the Arsenal captaincy on Monday night with manager Unai Emery ready to consult players before deciding whether the midfielder should keep the armband.

Emery is fearful of a player backlash should he decide to strip the Switzerland international of the club captaincy given Xhaka’s standing as one of the most popular members of the squad.

The midfielder was elected as club captain by the squad – a clear indication of his popularity.

And given Xhaka was selected as skipper by his team-mates, manager Emery is set to discuss the issue with members of his squad before making a final decision on whether he will continue in his position.

Having been given Monday off, players will return to the club’s London Colney HQ today for the first time since Xhaka antagonised Arsenal supporters before appearing to tell them to ‘f*** off” in response to being booed.

Emery refused to confirm whether Xhaka would remain as captain after Sunday’s clash against Crystal Palace – instead revealing he would hold discussions with the club’s hierarchy before deciding.

Some of those talks took place on Monday, Emery and technical director Edu were understood to be involved.

But it looks likely the players’ opinion will also be gauged before a decision is made.

The position of club captain is not viewed as important on the continent as it is here in England, Emery’s decision to let the players vote on who should wear the armband underlines that view.

But there are concerns from within the club that Emery has misjudged the importance of the captaincy since his arrival at the start of last season.

There is understood to be a reluctance to strip Xhaka of the captaincy from within the technical staff – despite Emery admitting the former Borussia Monchengladbach star was ‘wrong’ to react in the way he did on Sunday.

However, if Xhaka was to decide he no longer wanted to retain the captaincy, sources claim Emery would accept his decision.

There was hope within the corridors of power at the Emirates Stadium on Monday that Xhaka would say sorry for his actions on Sunday.

But an a public apology was not forthcoming last night despite attempts from inside the club for Xhaka to break his silence.

Spaniards Hector Bellerin and Dani Ceballos both took to social media on Monday to call on fans to support the side following the toxic atmosphere on Sunday.

However, Sportsmail understands Emery is facing difficulties in totally convincing his player of his methods.

Sources claim there is often confusion from members of the playing staff over Emery’s instructions on a day-to-day basis at the training ground and during matches.

There is also a concern among the squad that his tactics have severely stifled a team that was once famed for its creativity.

Indeed, his complete marginalisation of Mesut Ozil has been privately questioned by a contingent of players who believe the German still has quality to offer in certain games.

It all leaves Emery facing a huge challenge to fully convince the Gunners hierarchy that he is the right man to lead the club beyond this season.

Emery’s job is under no immediate threat – and it won’t be while the Gunners remain in contention for a top four place.

But the Spaniard’s position will come under significant threat if he fails to qualify for the Champions League next season.